IPC: Lighting the world from Uyo

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*L-R: Pastor Simeon Afolabi, Pastor Sylvanus Ukafia and wife, Pastor Erikan (conference hosts).

Obong Akpaekong

The impact of the five-day 2019 edition of the International Pastors’ Conference (IPC) which ended in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital on July 5, will doubtless be felt far across nations of the world. This is more so, considering that it’s about 2000 participants were drawn from 13 countries including United States of America (U.S.A) and the United Kingdom.

“It is important for us to come together once in a while and ensure that the changes around us do not change us and do not change how we relate with God and how we serve our God.

“We must hold each other accountable to maintain the ideals for which our redemption was bought and ensure that we keep going around every wall mounted by the anti-Christ until such walls tumble down like the wall of Jericho”, hosts of the conference, Dr. Sylvanus and Erikan Ukafia, told participants in their welcome note.

The Ukafias also said that the yearly event was aimed at ensuring that iron would sharpen iron as the conference speakers, drawn from parts of the world would be taking their turns to address the participants.

Pastor Simeon Afolabi of Firstlove Assembly, Port Harcourt, set the ball rolling with the topic ‘Displaying God’s Wisdom’ He said that God, who is omniscience, had made all things by His wisdom. Afolabi showcased three kinds of wisdom – wisdom of this age, which he explained as human philosophy; that of rulers of this age, which he said was rooted in the occult and diabolical practices and wisdom of God, which he termed, divine. He said believers should desire to have the wisdom of God and should apply it in every situation in life. Afolabi used the creation story to explain how God applied His wisdom and enjoined believers to emulate God in application of wisdom.

In his lecture titled ‘Growing Leaders’, Pastor Sylvanus Ukafia cited the example of Christ in Matthew 4:18-20, when He (Christ) called two fishermen brothers, Simon and Andrew, who were casting their net into the sea to come walk with Him. Ukafia said Christ promised that He would make them fishers of men and did just that with his disciples. He called on pastors and other Christian leaders to keep transforming the lives of their members as well as disciplining them. He said people selected for leadership must be called of God and as John Maxwell put it in his book, “be gifted, influential, teachable, and having the heart of servants.” Ukafia also said leadership development are in stages and include teaching, coaching and delegation. He emphasized that the leader must have faith in the people while the people must be willing and available.

Simon Daramola took the session on “Raising and Developing a Workforce”. He stressed that raising workforce did not need overemphasis because no ministry or project can be greater than its workforce. “A strong ministry is a product of a strong workforce. More so, no ministry can do more exploits than the strength of her workforce”, he said. Daramola urged congregations to raise more workers for the harvest because, as he put it, the numerical strength of a church does not determine her quality, usefulness and effectiveness but the workforce does.

Pastor Effefiong Effiom of Nu-Life Church, London, delivered a lecture on “Betrayal in Ministry”. He defined betrayal as violation or breach of trust or confidence and said it did not have a positive angle and would remain a malady.

Effiom said all through history, betrayal of one form or the other has been recorded describing it as malady no one will be able to completely avoid in the course of life or ministry. Effiom observed that in ministry, many general overseers feel betrayed when their pastor leaves, especially when it is without information or resignation and advised all who have such experience to always handle the situation with much care and love, noting that when Judas Iscariot arrived with the Jews and soldiers to arrest Jesus, the Master addressed Iscariot as friend.

Leadership has challenges. Such challenges were again brought to the fore by Timothy Olonade, a Jos-based pastor. Olonade said becoming a leader is sometimes easier than performing leadership functions. After reading from Number 12, he said leaders emerged from different ways – election, appointment, inheritance, coup or promotion, noting that from whichever form one emerged, one must conquer the challenges of relevance, allegiance, faithfulness, sustainability, succession, stormy sea and that of mission engagement, for ministers in particular.

When he took the session “Equipped to Conquer”, Pastor Moctar Soumana of Eagle Leadership Academy in Niger Republic, counted the cost of soul–winning and significance of mission in Christendom. He said all pastors and believers must get involved in mission. He called for more evangelization of Islamic nations “despite the challenges the church faces…..” His lecture was sealed in the next session, when Pastor Sylvia Imoh told the conference that the Church must work as never before because all prophecies about the return of Christ have fulfilled and Christ was already in the air.

Pastor George Umana (Eket) told the pastors that their leadership of God’s people must reflect the servant-leader style, which he defined as ‘an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of others above the self interest of the leader.”

Quoting Laub, Umana pointed to Philippians 2:3-5 as a depository of the essence of servant-leadership that church leaders must emulate. He said the leadership model was effective, ethical, moral and Christ-like.

Also speaking was Pastor John Idoko of CAPRO, Jos. Idoko took the participants on a journey through the Bible, tracing the birth of Ishmael and his relationship with Isaac. He said that even though the genesis of violence and conflicts all over the world could be traced to descendants of Ishmael, they remain brothers of Christians, saying every effort must be made to share the gospel with Muslims.

Two young bishops – Eric Freeman, from South Carolina (U.S.A.) and Robert Ondoa, from Republic of Cameroun – lectured at the event. Speaking on “Balance as the Paradigm for Kingdom Excellence”, Freeman said while believers strive to attain goals, they must have in mind that Kingdom excellence is only achieved by consistent application of a faith, balanced by the wisdom of strategy, structure and healthy work ethics. Freeman said this replicated the paradox of Joseph in Genesis 37. In his lecture, ‘Setting Doctrine’, Ondoa, said like Jesus, Christian leaders must first prepare for their assignments, Matthew 5:1. He said “When you have a multitude to teach or an assignment to accomplish, set yourself (prepare),” noting that Jesus accomplished much because he prepared for the harvest. He said the pastor must study well and pray to be able to add value to lives. Aside straight line lectures, there were sessions for workshops and seminars touching on various areas of life and ministry.

Pastor Kelechi Chibuzor, conference planning  committee chairman, said the IPC, which first held 20 years ago, was put in place to raise effective leadership in the global Church.

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